The Late Antique Period: Change And Change In The Town Of The Roman Empire

1546 Words 6 Pages
Typically, the Late Antique period is seen to be characterized by decline in the towns of the Roman Empire. This period did see major changes in the urban landscape of many areas as administrative power accumulated in the hands of the imperial bureaucracy and many towns were reduced in size. Churches were becoming an intrinsic part of every city. Even the centers of power were shifting within the empire. This does not mean that empire was solely in decline, but rather the towns and cities of the Late Antique period were changing in order to accommodate the demands of the time. One of the major changes made in the Late Antique period was the shift in administrative power in Roman cities. In earlier periods of the empire, local elites provided …show more content…
This change to the empire meant that churches became as necessary to a Roman town as baths, amphitheaters, council houses, and temples had been in earlier periods (Heather, 38). Just as those buildings helped citizens to share in a “Roman identity” (Heather, 38), churches built a sense of community by offering people a place to share their experiences (Sweetman, 210). Even the architecture of these churches, which would have excluded the unbaptized and the less privileged members of the congregation, would have provided the more prominent members with a private community and those outside of that community with a reason to become more involved in the church (Sweetman, 210-211). The construction of churches shows a continuation of this idea of creating spaces to participate in typical Roman activities. The only change was in how the citizens expressed their “Romanness,” because it had become intertwined with Christianity by this period. Since the needs of the citizens had changed it is only natural that they alter their cities to accommodate their new idea of Roman life. But even while Christianity was spreading throughout the empire, many towns still possessed citizens, who held firmly to their pagan beliefs. For example, in the mid-fourth century, Alexandria was famous for its Temple of Serapis (Maas, 40). The continued existence of pagan temples echoes the more positive and inclusive interactions between Christians and polytheists that Sweetman found in the Peloponnese (Sweetman, 208). In some cases, there were even investments made into pagan sites, such as Corinth’s Temple to Aphrodite and the Temple of Isis at Kenchreai (Sweetman, 209). Romans wanted and needed their cities to provide for the religious needs of their entire population. This inclusive interaction between religions shows that changes made during the Late Antique period were not entirely negative and therefore not

Related Documents